Stories from Buddhism: Princess Zhangzhao

A Dafa Practitioner in Mainland China

PureInsight | February 17, 2008

[] In the
fifteenth year of the Zhenguan period in the Tang dynasty, the Great
Tang Emperor (Tang Taizong) Li Shimin, accompanied by his officials,
went to Mount Mian to pay his respects to the master monk Zhichao. The
younger sister of the emperor, Princess Zhangzhao, also went with them.

When Taizong arrived at Mount Mian and heard that Zhichao had passed
away, he felt very disappointed and sad. He looked up at the sky and
sighed: "This trip for worshipping the Buddha is in vain." Suddenly,
four characters, "Kong Wang Gu Fo (Empty King Ancient Buddha)," and the
image of the master monk Zhichao appeared in the sky. Tang Taizong
therefore conferred the title "Kongwang Buddha (Empty King Buddha)" on
Zhichao. Princess Zhangzhao saw the miracle with her own eyes and also
liked the graceful mountain, so she decided to become a nun and
practice Buddhism with great dedication.

When Tang Taizhong was worshipping at Mount Mian, he saw one place that
looked like an intersection of two dragons where there were many
practicing caves left by previous practitioners located on the top of
the mountain, on the cliffs, and inside the woods. He appreciated them
so very much that he gave the place the name "Dragon Ridge."

Princess Zhangzhao decided to practice at the Dragon Ridge that was
named by her brother. During her second year, Tang Taizhong ordered to
build a temple for his sister and gave the name "Ligu Rock" to the
place where Zhangzhao had practiced in the past year. Therefore, people
also call the princess "Li Gu (Aunt Li)."

Though the emperor took good care of her, she was very diligent in her
practice and was not arrogant being a royal relative.  Besides
meditating, she often went to the mountain to collect herbs and treated
patients. From the time she became a nun in the Mount Mian area, when
there was a drought she burned incense and prayed for rain. It has been
said that they always worked, so people benefited from that. The
princess was given a nickname "Living Guanyin (Bodhisattva)."

One day, when the princess was collecting herbs on the mountain, two
thugs went there and wanted to do something bad to her. At that moment,
sixteen monks showed up and the ruffians were so scared that they run
away. The princess realized that the monks were the sixteen arhats who
saved her. It can be seen that the real Buddhist practitioners always
can get protection from the master monks or Buddha.  

After Zhangzhao became a nun, she went back to the capital to visit her
brother twice. The first time was in the eighteenth year of Zhenguan
(A.D. 644). One day, Tang Taizong missed the princess so much that he
wanted to ask her to come back to the capital. On the same night, the
princess saw the Mother Buddha (Bodhisattva) came down from the sky in
a form with thousands of hands and eyes. She told the princess: "Today
His Majesty was not well because of restless national matters. He
wished you could have gone back to the palace and consoled him." When
the princess wanted to have another look at the Mother Buddha, she had
already become the wind and disappeared. Zhangzhao then followed what
the Mother Buddha said and went back to the palace to see her brother.
After greetings, Zhangzhao told Taizong what happened. Taizong said:
"The merciful and benevolent Mother Buddha is always considerate to
civilians. When you go back, you can build a hall to worship the Mother
Buddha so that her blessings can be spread to more people." As soon as
the princess went back, she started to have the hall built and

The second time the princess returned to the capital was in the fall of
the twentieth year of Zhenguan Period. One day when Princess Zhangzhao
was meditating on the mountain, she felt that she floated to the sacred
Mt Linjiu and heard there was a voice in the sky: "Now His Majesty is
sending the master monk Xuanzang to the Western Region to get the real
Buddhist scriptures. His Majesty also ordered the building of the Dayan
Buddhist pagoda and wrote the "Sheng Jiao Xu (The Preface to the Sacred
Teaching) to praise it. It shows that His Majesty values Buddhism very
much, which is a blessing for the civilians." When the princess came
out from the meditation, feelings of missing her brother struck her
very deeply. She made very simple preparations and then headed to the
capital promptly. When she arrived at the palace and saw her brother,
she told him what the Buddha showed her. Tang Taizong was very pleased
and told her details about Xuanzang going on the pilgrimage for the
Buddhist scriptures. Then he ordered the princess to build a hall at
the place where she meditated to worship the founder of Buddhism,

During the practice of Princess Zhangzhao, many of the miracles that
had happened to her were widely told. A lot of worshippers came to see
her. However, people could hardly find her. It was said that if the
worshipper looked for her in the northern mountain, she replied in the
southern part. When some looked for her in the eastern valley, she
answered in the western valley. When some looked for her at the top of
the mountain, she replied at the foot the mountain. Though it was very
hard to trace her, people who had real connections with Buddhism could
see her in person and got help from her. It was said that after the
princess became successful in her practice, she helped many followers
to become immortals, including the Immortal Mianbai in the Tang
dynasty, the Immortal Danling in the Song dynasty and the Immortal
Lingcao in the Ming dynasty.

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